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Londoners got behind the high drama of Hard Sun

5th January 2018
Pic by Hal Shinnie

London provides the tense backdrop to BBC One’s new pre-apocalyptic crime series Hard Sun. Hidden locations, along with well known places work side by side with important housing estates and some quiet back streets to bring the drama to life.

It starts this Saturday January 6th. Take a look at the trailer here.

Jim Sturgess and Agyness Deyn star as police officers working on the routine death of a hacker in London. But they come across proof the world is facing certain destruction in five years because of a mysterious cosmic event.

Writer Neil Cross says that he relied on real science but, reassuringly, although this could happen, it’s very unlikely. He was inspired by the David Bowie song Five Years.

In the show, the British government is trying to suppress the truth about the upcoming apocalypse, meaning our lead characters are chased by Security Service killers, who want them dead. The classified dossier is made public eventually, and though it’s discredited by the government, it is never fully suppressed.

FilmFixer manages the film office service for many of the London boroughs where the show was filmed including Lambeth, Lewisham, Southwark, Haringey, Islington and Camden.

FilmFixer director Andrew Pavord says, “This was an extensive shoot between February and April last year, with cast and crew of up to 80 for the most complex scenes. The incredible hidden Highgate tunnels, connected to the abandoned Highgate Overground station were used.

“We see a life or death chase scene through West Norwood cemetery. Swiss Cottage Library features, and the Camden Council office at 5 Pancras Square plays a newspaper office that’s raided by police. Even the real Guy’s at London Bridge was used for hospital scenes – it’s a rare location to see used.

“Telegraph Hill in Lewisham was lit with surreal brightness to shoot the impact of the terrifying cosmic event. A beautifully choreographed fight scene was shot on the beach at Bankside.

“Dramatic crime scenes were also filmed on the Brandon Estate where a body is found impaled in a tree and the Alexandra & Ainsworth Estate where there’s another tense chase scene.

“The production did a great job at working closely with residents to minimise disruption and donations worth thousands of pounds were made to residents groups so that all locals would benefit from the filming.

“This is another great example of Londoners working together to make world renowned TV drama possible. Hulu is taking the series to America.”

In Lambeth we see the much-loved Parma café on Kennington Road feature. Take a look at this clip.

Andrew Pavord says, “The Parma café is a local institution and it renders beautifully on camera.

“Also in Lambeth, we saw 50 cast and crew capering about West Norwood’s Robson Road and cemetery as the lead characters are chased by security service killers. They leap down from the cemetery wall as part of the hair-raising chase.”

In Lambeth the Black Prince pub features, along with a home on Whittlesey Street. And a character is escorted from her place of work to a waiting car outside Hammerton Hall on Lingham Street.

Generous donations were made to locals via Friends of West Norwood Cemetery, Edward Henry House Co-op, Hatch Row Housing Coop and Lambeth Estate Residents Association.

Andrew Pavord continues, “Southwark sees more action, with a murder taking place on a crowded bus stuck in traffic on Suffolk Street, and a woman is abducted by a hooded man at knifepoint on Glasshill Street. On the Brandon Estate, it turns out that a person found in a tree didn’t jump, he’d been pushed.

“Along Bankside we see Jim Sturgess being chased and making a call from a public phone box, as well as the fight between the leads in the first episode.

Brandon Estate TRA and Bankside Residents Forum received very kind donations as a thank you.”

Andrew Pavord continues, “In Lewisham, locals noticed the surreal light used to depict the terrifying cosmic event.

“Telegraph Hill’s fantastic views feature, particularly in a scene where a character wakes up in a car with London in the background.”

Islington’s not spared in the crime wave, as one of the gun-toting chases races along Bastwick Street. Police are called to a murder scene inside a home on Penderyn Way. And a character sprays, “What is Hard Sun?” over a billboard on the Ray Street Bridge.

Andrew Pavord adds, “On the park benches in Thornhill Square, a character ties a noose and tests the size on his own neck, but doesn’t tighten it, while a disgusted passerby catches his eye.

“Some scenes filmed in and around Granville Square Gardens led to donations for the Granville Square Gardeners group and the Amwell Society, along with donations to the Penderyn & Trecastle Tenants and Residents Association.”

In Camden, the Alexandra & Ainsworth Estate saw a crime scene involving a masked man on a stairway and a girl being chased up the stairs.

Andrew Pavord says, “Some of the most thrilling sequences were shot here. But we had strict controls on this filming, keeping half the 80 cast and crew out of sight in the tenants and residents hall at all times, so it didn’t feel like an excessive presence. The cast and crew were regularly reminded to keep the noise down out of respect for residents.

“No sirens were allowed on the fake police cars and all the filming lights had to be switched off at a set time in the evening.

“In Swiss Cottage Library 60 cast and crew filmed a mobile phone conversation outside the front door, before the character walks in, through the atrium and up to the arts section of the library, where they have a conversation at a desk.

“The men’s toilets in Hampstead’s South End Green were used. In Camley Street a character pulls up in a taxi and walks into 5 Pancras Square. We see 5 Pancras Square, as a newspaper office, being raided by police.

“And a character drives down Dyott Street the wrong way before turning into the down ramp of the TUC building.

“Donations in Camden included generous payments to Alexandra & Ainsworth residents as well as to The Bloomsbury Association.”

In Haringey, the disused Highgate tunnels played a creepy hide out to the character Daniel, son of Agyness Deyn’s character. He’s followed back to his den there and a fight breaks out.

Andrew Pavord says, “This extraordinary location works really well in the drama. To thank locals, the production made a donation to Friends of the Parkland Walk and to The London Bat Group.

“Also in Haringey, police dramatically raid a home on Stormont Road.”